From your adolescence untill now, you’ve likely created an ideal in your head of what sex should be like and how a woman looks and performs in bed. Well, if that ideal is based on what you’ve seen in porn or is simply too ideal, it may actually be having a negative impact on your sex life in real life, according to research from the University of Kent. 

In the first study of its kind, researchers delved into how ‘setting exceedingly high standards for performance,’ in bed is causing women to suffer sexual dysfunction and negative self-image. As she strives for flawlessness to live up to those standards, her self-confidence diminishes—along with your sex life.
In the study, psychologists considered the responses of 366 women ages 19 to 30 who completed two surveys between December 2013 and February 2014. The researchers differentiated between four forms of sexual perfectionism: self-oriented (standards people apply to themselves), partner-oriented (standards people apply to their sexual partner), partner-prescribed (a person’s belief their sexual partner is imposing perfectionistic standards), and socially prescribed (belief that society imposes standards on people) per the study abstract. The worst offender? Partner-prescribed sexual perfectionism, or when she believes her partner has “perfectionistic” standards she needs to live up to.

This type of pressure contributes to a woman’s critical self-evaluation and sexual dysfunction—especially in regards to her sexual esteem, anxiety, and arousal. She likely already has insecurities and ideals in her head (as you probably do too), but that pales in comparison to her feelings of inadequacy stemming from a partner’s “perfect” expectations. And let’s face it: If her sex life suffers, so does yours. 

Not sure how to make her feel comfortable and secure while still asking for the sex you’ve been craving? Read our guide on having that conversation—the right way.

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